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July

09, 2014


Correspondence between Lambros Kyriakakos and Carol Sanders
of the Winnipeg Free Press

Carol Sanders wrote an article in the Winnipeg Free Press today titled
Refugees told to back regime
http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/refugees-told-to-back-regime-
266370981.html. On Monday July 07, 2014, Carol Sanders contacted
CECCOs acting chairperson, Lambros Kyriakakos, via email asking him
about a petition being signed in the community. Mr. Kyriakakos provided
Ms. Sanders a comprehensive response on July 08, 2014.

CECCO has decided to publish the email exchange because, despite all the
points made by Mr. Kyriakakos in his response to her, Ms. Sanders chose to
disproportionately privilege the words of Mr. Matas and falsely stated that
the petition is in support of the tax collection. Not only is the articles title
misleading and a clear attempt to create controversy, but it also does not
provide a fair and balanced representation of the response provided by Mr.
Kyriakakos.

From: [Lambros Kyriakakos] <lkyriak@shaw.ca>


To: "Carol Sanders" <Carol.Sanders@freepress.mb.ca>
Cc: "Paul Samyn" <Paul.Samyn@freepress.mb.ca>
Sent: Tuesday, July 8, 2014 11:49:52 AM
Subject: Re: Action Day

Good morning Carol

Could you please clarify what kind of conflict you are referring to and
on what grounds you believe this petition to be untenable? If you are
preparing to write a piece for the WFP it would help me better answer
your question if you provided some context and clarification.

As you may know, The Eritrean Community in Winnipeg Inc. was founded in
1985 and has 367 registered members and their families. It serves
approximately 2500 Eritrean Canadians. Our petition is entirely
voluntary and addresses the issue of continued consular services which
has an impact on all of our constituents. The consulate is, for many of
our members, the provider of essential services and a connection to
their ancestral homeland.

Generally speaking, the people in our community have been paying the 2%
tax since the early 90s and have done so voluntarily because they wish
obtain essential government services from the consulate--notably in the
form of passport applications, land title transfers, and various
document and license requests.

The moral argument proposed by Mr. Matas and his clients is that tax
should be banned and these services should be offered to us without any
reciprocal obligation to pay for them. This type of argument however,
is without serious merit and impractical from a legal standpoint. We
received a memorandum from our lawyer which explains that the 2% tax is
legal according to well-established principles of international law and
that U.N resolution 2023 does not affect that right in Canada.

Instead, we strongly encourage individuals who are opposed to the idea
of a Diaspora tax not to pay it and to report any incidents of threat
or intimidation to the police. We are proud of all the great work we
have done with refugees over the years. All of our services emphasize a
caring attitude towards newcomers who have made Canada their newly
adopted country. We do our work with a great sense of compassion and
responsibility as defined by our principle objectives.

Our petition is primarily a legally based response to the erroneous
claims of extortion that your newspaper has repeatedly made in the
past. As you know, the Criminal Code of Canada contains punishable
offenses for extortion and in every reported case of threat and
intimidation by the media--none would meet the necessary tests set out
under Canadian law.

Mr. Matas and his clients call for a complete ban on the 2% tax and
closure of the consulate in Toronto. This, in fact, would be untenable
for Eritrean-Canadians in our community because it would deprive them
of the above mentioned services. Individuals who, for example, wish to
request vital documents for the processing of their immigration
application in Canada have complained to us that they would be placed
in a precarious situation without them. A closure of the consulate
would principally hurt refugees because it would mean longer delays,
and higher costs associated with having to request documents directly
from Eritrea.

All Eritreans-Canadians have the right to demand and receive public
services from the consulate where they wish to request them and where
they have met their obligation to pay the citizenship-based tax. We
are not in a position of conflict for demanding that these rights be
honored by both governments for all our community members.

The public and the Winnipeg Free Press readers would have been served
better if your paper would have elaborated how the SEMG encroaches with
the rights of the Canadians of Eritrean origin- by putting aside the
influence of politically biased positions- and serve our local
community by recognizing that we are a minority victimized by negative
geopolitical influences.

----- Original Message -----
From: [Lambros Kyriakakos] <Carol.Sanders@freepress.mb.ca>
To: "BIRIKTI BAHTA" <lkyriak@shaw.ca>
Sent: Monday, July 7, 2014 3:28:50 PM
Subject: Action Day

Hi Lambros Im writing about the petition available at the Eritrean
Community of Winnipeg Inc - should an organization that sponsors
refugees and offers refugee resettlement services be encouraging
members/sponsees/clients to sign such a petition? A human rights lawyer
I talked to said its a conflict and puts the refugees in an untenable
situation. Any comment?

Thanks either way for your time and consideration.

Carol Sanders | Reporter

WFP News email sig

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